Friday, Nov 28, 2014

From the discomfort zone: Brand in the new context

A brand can stick to the customer’s mind like a friend socially does only through Brand Friendship, and not through commercial transactions. ( Source: Reuters ) A brand can stick to the customer’s mind like a friend socially does only through Brand Friendship, and not through commercial transactions. ( Source: Reuters )
Written by Shombit Sengupta | Posted: May 25, 2014 12:50 am

In 300 years of invention, failure and fine-tuning, the brand has put in place some real value in products and services for customers. The way the world has changed in the last 20 years is incomparable to transformations in the last three centuries. The biggest disruption has been the breaking of frontiers among countries, enabled by digital technology.

This colossal phenomenon brought in a new language in the social context in total discord with three preceding centuries. We just cannot look at the brand today as we did traditionally. Its most critical aspect now is to deliver quality that customers want. Unless the brand creates friendship with the customer, there’s little chance of its survival in the market. Why is that?

Quadra orbit of human friendship: In this third part of my Brand Friendship series, let me explain by first tracing our social inclination. By nature, human desire has a cyclic logic of friendship. It is surrounded with trust, functional need and emotion. These drive a quadra orbit of human friendship comprising happiness, love, work and the social context where these attributes flourish, and which cannot be dislocated.

Happiness is what we desire most at any age. It extends to love in multiple senses. From livelihood to lifestyle, work embeds life, the struggle to achieve. All of this functions in a social paradigm of cocooning collectiveness. Working in an environment of shared trust through understanding elevates us towards the human desire for happiness.

This positive social system forms the business foundation on which we build awareness and over time, befriend brands. For example, possessing a musical record, CD, DVD or book is not the trend anymore. The urge to possess these products is diminishing. You’ll find even their physical points-of-purchase, the brick-and-mortar stores, are closing. Everything is getting Internet driven for the purpose of using and sharing. With no individual desire to possess, it is evident that a brand can stick to the customer’s mind like a friend socially does only through Brand Friendship, and not through commercial transactions.

Brand is a social being: In my 1994 book, Art of the Brand, I’d written that brands have a role to act as social beings. A few months ago in the French countryside I experienced exactly how a brand can become social. Opposite the entrance of a hypermarket, called Super U, I saw a life-size sculpture of a cow with an indication arrow saying, ‘Get fresh cow milk’. A vending machine outside the store dispensed fresh milk from cows in nearby villages 24×7. Freshness is assured, farmers replenish milk twice a day. Delivery is automated and hygienically superior. An adjacent machine has different sized continued…

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